Searching the Collections

This website allows you to explore the Royal Academy of Arts Collections of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, historic books, archives, historic photographs and plaster casts.

Currently, only works of art which have been digitised are available on the website. More images are added each month, and in due course all records will be made available.

The search screens allow you to enter search terms in multiple search fields and also limit your search by certain categories, e.g. role, materials & technique, language, etc. You can also browse the catalogue by name of artist or other person or institution associated with the works of art, books and documents in the Collection.

If you just want to search specifically for works of art or historic books or archival material it is best to select the appropriate search screen for the category of material you are looking for. If you want to search across all our collections, chose the Search All Collections search screen. Or if you want to carry out a quick search, try typing your query in the quick search box on the right-hand side of the Header.

We hope that the search screens are fairly intuitive: just type in your search terms in the appropriate fields then press Return or click on the Search button. You'll then be presented with a list of hits. Click on any of these will bring up the full record for the object, book or archive document.

The following functionality is also available on all search screens on the RA Collections website.

Boolean Operators
The following Boolean operators can be used in any search field, except the date field:

and | or | not

For example:
Title = burlington AND house - will find all records where both words appear in the title.

Title = burlington OR house - will find all records where Burlington appears in the title and all records where house appears in the title. This will result in a larger number of returned items.

Title = burlington NOT house - will find all records where Burlington appears in the title but will exclude any of these that also have the word House in the title.

Truncation and Substitution
You can use an asterisk (*) to truncate a word. Truncation allows you to search for variant word endings. The asterisk represents a single character or many characters, e.g. portrait* will find records that include the words portrait, portraits, portraiture, etc.

The question mark (?) symbol is used as a substitute for a missing character in a search term, usually when you are unsure of a spelling or when you want to find two forms of one word. For example, a search for Wom?n, will find records containing either "woman" or "women."

When brackets are used, the search within the brackets will always be carried out first, followed by whatever comes after the Boolean operator. So in the example below, all records that include Constable or Turner will be retrieved. Then all records that include Constable or Turner and also `portrait` will be found.

e.g. (constable OR turner) AND portrait

Phrase searching
Search for exact phrases by entering them in speech-marks, e.g. "Diana and her nymphs"

Use the Date field to search for an exact date, a year or date-range. For example:

10th December 1768
19th Century

Sorting Search Results
The Works of Art and Books search screens include a Sort option which enables you to display your search results in different orders.

Works of Art can be sorted by Artist Name, Title or Date. (If you don't make a selection, the records will be displayed alphabetically by artist's name).

Books can be sorted by Title, Author, Date, Object Number. The default is to display them in chronological order.

Browsing Names
You can browse through the list of names associated with objects, books and archives in the collection via the Names A-Z and Academicians links in the Header of the RA Collections pages.

This lists the names of all past and present members and officers of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Clicking on a name will take you to a page that includes biographical information about the artist and a summary list of all the works of art, books and documents from the Collection that are associated with the artist. You can browse through the list and click on any of the summaries to view the full record.

Names A-Z
This lists the names of all the people and organisations associated with objects, books and documents in the Collections.

Clicking on a name will take you to the page that displays all the records associated with that person or institution.

In both Academicians and Names A-Z you can limit the display to just the names that are associated with Works of Art, Books or Archives by clicking on one of these options in the light-grey bar in the Header at the top of the screen.

The links in the two horizontal lists in the Header enable you to navigate round the site. If you have carried out a search, the last link in the bottom line of the Header will always take you back to your search results screen or the search screen containing your last search terms.

Any text that appears in blue is a hotlink. Clicking on it will take you to another page with more information. For instance, all personal and corporate names are hotlinks. So if you are viewing a page about a painting, clicking on the artists name will take you to the page about that artist including biographical information plus a list of all works of art, books and documents associated with him or her.

Remember, it doesn't matter how many hotlinks you click on after you have run a search, you can always get back to your last search by clicking on the Search Results button in the Header.

Whenever you want to get back to the main Royal Academy website, just click on the big red RA logo in the top left-hand corner of the screen.

We hope you enjoy exploring the Collection. If you have any problems with searching or accessing the RA Collections website or if you have any comments about the site, please contact us via our Feedback form.